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Comparing this year’s Team USA to the Dream Team

This year’s US Olympic Men’s basketball team may be the best team assembled since the Dream Team, but how do they stack up 1992 side?

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 07: LeBron James #6, Anthony Davis #14 and Kevin Durant #7 of the 2024 USA Basketball Men's National Team talk during a practice session at the team's training camp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 07, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada.   Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Ethan Miller / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

The USA Basketball Showcase begins against Canada tonight from Las Vegas as the mini world tour begins their preparation for the Olympics at the end of the month. This is without question the best team that has been assembled since the Dream Team in 1992 and don’t be surprised if a little deja vu trickles into your mind while watching this team.

The foreign influence

Tonight we will get our first look at a team that has been taking shape since last year when the US placed 4th in the World Cup. Some of the biggest names in the game joined forces like one of those Hollywood blockbusters where all the superheroes in the world unite to fight the forces of evil. In this instance, there are no forces of evil, but there are a handful of countries trying to snap Team USA’s four straight gold medal streak.

Basketball has changed since the Olympics in Barcelona 32 years ago. Two European players have won five of the last six NBA MVP awards, and this year there wasn’t a single American player named as an MVP candidate. Look at the host nation of France, which is responsible for producing both of the No. 1 overall draft picks over the last two years.

In ‘92, the world got down on their knees to kiss the feet of basketball royalty. Players from rival teams would hang around after the game to ask for autographs and try to take pictures with these basketball gods that were larger than life. There will be none of that this year. Not only will players from other teams not be looking for autographs after getting stomped, the players from other countries will be looking to do the stomping.

Tale of the tape: Titles

The situation these days is different thanks to that summer in which the Dream Team inspired millions of boys and girls around the world to pick up a basketball. But there are striking similarities from that team and this team. Obviously they have yet to play a game, so we can’t compare their Olympic campaigns but we can compare titles and individual awards of both teams heading into the tournament.

First let’s take a look at NBA titles. We aren’t going to count the Dream Team’s total titles won because many of those came after 1992. Just Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen alone won four a piece after Barcelona. Before 1992 Magic Johnson had the most titles with five rings, Larry Bird had three, while Jordan and Pippen had just won their second of an eventual six NBA titles to give the Dream Team a total of 12 titles before 1992, and ended with a total of 23 when it was all said and done.

This year’s team actually has more NBA Championships with 14 throughout the roster. LeBron James and Steph Curry lead the way with four titles each and after Boston won the championship just a few weeks ago that puts Jrue Holiday at two NBA championships, even with Kevin Durant. Anthony Davis one his only title with LeBron during The Bubble, and Jayson Tatum just won his first won with Holiday this year.

Tale of the Tape: MVP

When it comes to NBA MVPs, the Dream Team has a slight edge. That might be because of the emergence of foreign players coming to the NBA, and dominating. Again, that is a by product of the ‘92 team’s allure world wide, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that there were three players that won a total of nine MVP’s on the Dream Team’s roster. Magic and Bird had three a piece and Jordan had just won his third at the end of the 1992 season.

While there are more players on this year’s roster that have won MVPs, the four players to win the award have a total of eight. LeBron James leads his teammates with four MVPs, and and Curry has two. Kevin Durant has one and Embiid is the most recent winner on the roster with his MVP that was awarded to him two season ago.

The Dream Team’s roster would end up winning a total of 14 MVPs and Karl Malone and David Robinson would win the award and Jordan would win another two MVPs. There was no doubt a generational passing of the torch we saw in 1992. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson’s reign in the NBA was coming to a close and Michael Jordan had pronounced himself the new face of the league.

Deja Vu in Paris

The team’s roster this year is similarly structured to that of the Dream Team in that sense. You have your two or three players who were generational players who are the leaders of this team, that are most likely playing in their final Olympics. LeBron James, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant have been the league’s three biggest American stars for the last decade, or in LeBron’s case the last two decades.

Then you have the next generation of players, like Jayson Tatum and Anthony Edwards who are not only going to be in the MVP conversation for the next decade, but will be fighting for championships for the next decade.

There is a long way to go before we really start to compare the teams. And who knows if Team USA is even going to win gold with the state of international basketball as it is today. I doubt this team will smash their opponents by an average of 44 points like the US did in Barcelona, but you have to admit, the tale of the tape is pretty similar between the Dream Team and Team Deja Vu.